Courtney Pieters murderer was paranoid about being poisoned

2018-12-04 16:01
Mortimer Saunders. (Jaco Marais)

Mortimer Saunders. (Jaco Marais)

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Child rapist and murderer Mortimer Saunders had a history of paranoia about people poisoning him, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Probation officer Jeremy Kessie testified that Saunders previously suspected his mother, aunt and a former girlfriend of wanting to poison him.

Ironically, Saunders testified that he used ant poison on his victim, three-year-old Courtney Pieters, whose decomposing body was discovered in Epping Industria in May - nine days after her disappearance.

"Saunders was a danger to vulnerable members of society, although his risk of reoffending was medium to low," Kessie continued.

"He is a risk, but not to the public in general."

Kessie said Saunders did not appear to have a history of violence or an aggressive nature.

However, he posed a risk to children after what he did Pieters.

In his plea explanation, Saunders confessed to murder and to using his fingers to penetrate the toddler after her death.

He denied that he planned the toddler's death or that he raped her while she was alive.

His version was that he had given the three-year-old ant poison to make her sick before he choked her, beat her and used a towel to cover her mouth.

He claimed he had done it because of "ill feelings" between him and her mother, Juanita.

Saunders, a father of three, was a tenant in the house where Juanita and her family lived.

Kessie told the court that, while Saunders appeared to have accepted responsibility for this actions, he disputed that Courtney's murder was premeditated.

"He claims that there was no intent. But when one considers the fact that he administered poison to a little child, a minor of only three years old… [He gave her] two glasses and mixed it before administering it. He should have had the foresight that … there was every possibility it could cause her death," Kessie testified.

"When the victim became ill and tried to call for help, the accused had the opportunity to fight for her life. He could have saved her. [Instead, he] muffled her mouth and proceeded to choke her. He should have seen that she was young, fragile and small and that he could cause great harm and damage."

Saunders faces two life sentences – one for premeditated murder and another for raping a minor.

Kessie recommended that Saunders be handed an "extended period of direct imprisonment".

Proceedings continue.

Read more on:    courtney pieters  |  cape town  |  child abuse  |  crime
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